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Tag Archives: Plato


Platonic Solid

Men, arrayed on rays, vertex to vertex
Reach across the plane with probisci
Sleek and curious but blade-grass frail
A lateral-diagonal intermingling

God, as capstone, pours it downward
Perpendicularity, liquid, and unpredicatable
Few could apprehend from whence to where

Most retract their probing lines, prophesying danger
Only a few stay their hand to catch the downward flow

“Reason and evidence does sweet fuck-all”

Consider the source (the video will start at the beginning part of the conversation, for proper context): Molyneux is an atheist who is 150% invested in the Western philosophical legacy, stretching all the was back to the big three—Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Admitting that reason and evidence isn’t the panacea it’s purported to be is telling. He mentioned it in previous videos, but not quite so succinctly (or profanely).

And, as I have mentioned before, the blob of people known as “society,” cannot be run on “reason and evidence,” because the effectiveness of material epistemology goes straight to zero when broadened above a small group of agents. It’s best at the individual level; when it becomes a overarching strategy, it just ends up being tradition with heavy reliance on reliable authority, i.e., nearly every scientific fact is based on the trust of another’s observations and conclusions, unless we have replicated, via the same process and with the same results. Nearly everyone reading this will not have done this for a majority of scientific facts, including myself. Most implementations of “reason and evidence” as the gold standard for a society to live within usually involve the threat of violence. It really can’t be codified another way.

And even then, individuals only engage in reason and evidence effectively when it’s in small fits and starts, on equally small-scale, easily-perceivable objects: organizing the family calendar in the coming weeks, or following a cake recipe. It can also be effective in slightly larger groups, like a team of engineers working on a propulsion system.

The ethos of “I’m a scientist. I live by logic and reason,” is an bald lie, or at least a very hairy obfuscation of terms. The scientist, like any human, lives nearly entirely on instinct, senses, rote habit, and the force of tradition. The only time he lives by his professed credo is about a quarter of the time he is engaged in his profession.

Video: The Philosophy of Daredevil

Interesting analysis. I’m not a big TV guy, so I haven’t seen any of the episodes, but I’d have to watch one of the hundreds of hour-long edgy drama-type of series, this would be at the top of the list.

A few things though, that the video mentions: justice can’t be objective because people aren’t objective. We can’t be. That there’s an ephemeral form of a perfection called “justice” existing somewhere, waiting for us to conform to its nature, is perhaps a nice, inspiring thought, but that’s as far as it goes. Sorry, Plato. There can’t be one rule, or set of rules, to govern the whole of humanity because we don’t know all of humanity. In short, justice is best administered by someone intimately connected with us. This is at total odds with most westernized systems, so I wouldn’t expect too many people reading this to consider this a workable option.

The other thing: sometimes it’s irrelevant whether someone is “morally culpable” for their actions. Serious threats to social cohesion, in some contexts, don’t need to be “understood” for physical force, in the form of defense, to be available as a moral option. Social cohesion by itself, as an innate need of the human condition, demands it.

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 15

Authors Respond to Brexit on Twitter – I am shocked—shocked—that rich elitists would sympathize with soulless bureaucracies.

Fit for a King singer faces backlash for comments on race – AKA: People are oversensitive sissies.

Aristotle’s 2400 Year Old Tomb Found at Stagira – Found next to Plato’s Cave. Anyone? Yes? No? I’ll see myself out…

Covens vs. Coders: How Witchcraft Apps are Pissing Off Real Witches – “Real” witches…

The 24 Hour Read In Is Here! – Do these authors know e-books, amazon.com, and gutenberg.org exist? Libraries should just be public access computer centers at this point.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis – How have I not heard of these videos before?

The Empathy Industry – I’m okay with this as long as they give women prosthetic phalluses that “work” at very inopportune times.

This South American country has decriminalized all drugs for 40 years

Shifty merchants with 251 secret words for trade – “It looks like classic myth-repetition of the usual Eskimo-words-for-snow sort.”

Economists show that boys who grow up around books earn significantly more money as adults – Most economists are great at making connections with spurious logic. This seems like an example.

Doctor’s Plan for Full-Body Transplants Raises Doubts Even in Daring China – This is also suspicious.

It Took Centuries, But We Now Know the Size of the Universe – “We” are suspicious of this, too.

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife – Totally suspicious, AKA: it’s just wishful thinking.

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 9

The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone’s Feelings

Sic et Non, Souls and Pre-existence – I’m in the middle of reading Plato’s Phaedo, and the soul’s pre-existence was forefront. Instead of bumbling through a post about it, JT’s writing is much better.

A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms – Patterns. Someday I’d like to read a popular science article that doesn’t use the word “quantum.”

One Allegiance, Indivisible – “We cannot sustain a parceling up of our persons into the domain of Caesar and the domain of God – a house divided cannot stand. Either Caesar is Lord or Jesus is.”

Don’t Ask An Astrophysicist About Economics – “[Neil deGrasse Tyson] fell into the common trap of assuming just because he can’t imagine a return on investment one must not exist. Successful entrepreneurs are successful because they realized a return on an investment others did not.”

You’re Owed Nothing

10 Spiritual Gems From The Little Known Scottish Mystic Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien’s Guru

The Pilgrims’ Experiment with Communism Before the Second Thanksgiving – tl;dr version: people died when they didn’t have to.

The economic fallacies of Black Friday: 2015 Edition

You Are What You Read: 14 Thought Leaders Share Their Bookshelves – Guy is some kind of marketing guru, aka: a huckster (I mean, look at his domain name), and the bookshelves belong to others of his ilk. This article was labeled as the “smartest” people’s bookshelves, not “thought leaders” as the title suggests. I’m not sure which one is worse.

How to Ruin Your Band Name – This rules out every band name. Sorry, guys. At least my favorite band name, Breather Resist, passes all of these tests.

Orson Welles Narrating Plato’s “Parable of the Cave”

Via Aeon Skbole’s Facebook, witness the double-surrealism of this video explaining Plato’s Cave analogy of human knowledge narrated by Orson Welles. I know him most as the voice of Unicron because that’s what I grew up with, but that he was the broadcast voice of the fake alien attack that people took seriously yields some kind of irony.

The animation isn’t bad in that it sticks close to the original text, and the boffo half-abstract animation is an effective aid rather than a hindrance to understanding. It also really drives home the “rah rah Greek epistemology” angle, which is kind of expected and is good if you’re already all for that. I and others would have some reservations—namely it presupposes that the sun isn’t already another cave-fire in itself, another type of illusion that is really a shadow of higher level of reality.

Abraham Vs. Aristotle

Just pretend the other guy isn't Plato and that they're arguing. Like, the angry arguing.

I’ve been reading one guy here and another guy here and here. They talk about Hebrew/Middle Eastern (H/ME) epistemology, the existence of which I and most other Christians are aware and utilize under different names and applications. H/ME relies heavily on revelatory knowledge—our radar aimed at the metaphysical or supernatural—as a legitimate form of knowing things. Contrast this with Aristotelian epistemology that Western Civ is based on, where knowledge is acquired solely through human faculties.

Naturally, some say that these two ways of knowledge gathering are incompatible, but I think the rejections of one for the other is too hasty. They simply need proper application. We use Aristotle to apprehend the physical world, and we use H/ME to apprehend supernatural things. Someone who is wholly given to one or the other framework can just slip the other one in if they’re not cowed by their own fundamentalism. I’m making it sound like it’s buttering a slice of bread but accepting a different way of knowing things can be life-shattering in extreme cases.

Most people, without knowing it, use both already—the religious zealot “uses science” even though it’s hedged in some by his religious belief structure. Anyone who has watched more than 20 minutes of American TV programming is already aware of this type of person. But even skeptics and atheists use their sense of the divine. Coming to the conclusion that the supernatural doesn’t exist does not come about through Aristotelian ways. It comes through the skeptic’s sensus divinatus, however damaged (unrepared, really) the theist considers the skeptic’s apparatus to be, that nothing is “out there”. Logic, the senses, memories, et al., are fundamentally unable to answer questions about things outside of the universe(s). Determining anything about it, I believe, is read on the output tape spat out by the H/ME apparatus.

Even the smart Aristotelian skeptic of religion, if he isn’t hobbled by his own pride, can believe that the conclusions of theists the world over can be legitimately arrived at through the H/ME method. The theist comes to conclusions, through revelatory knowledge, about the supernatural (namely that it exists, for starters) and has not encountered real defeaters for his theistic belief. He has done his duty in just the same way the skeptic has done his, by using his sensus. The state of post-Sagan skepticism, though, is too mired in its own back-patting that admitting that theism, even if completely dead wrong, isn’t a result of neurosis or conspiracy. The generous skeptic scenario is mostly out of the picture.

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